Intronet: A Beginner’s Guide to Searching the Internet

Judith Edwards (Head of Reader Services, University College London Library)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 1 August 2000




Edwards, J. (2000), "Intronet: A Beginner’s Guide to Searching the Internet", The Electronic Library, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 285-304.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This book is written by a librarian at an American college – and it shows!I can only describe it as worthy, biased, and dull. The structure of the book is straightforward.

An introductory chapter lists the different kinds of information to be found on the Web. The next two chapters explain how to choose search terms and search tools (search engines and directories). The explanation of Boolean operators is amazingly convoluted, despite its brevity – why no Venn diagram? Then follow six chapters on “How to find …” – facts, files, people, companies and products, discussions and advice, and “just about anything else”. A small selection of key URLs is given for each. There are brief chapters on how to evaluate the resources one finds on the Web, and on citing Internet resources; these are concise, but well done, with pointers to a few more detailed sources in each case.

There are three appendices. The first gives some information on keeping up to date with search tools. Appendix B is “Ten fun and useful sites”, which are described as “unusual”. Unusual in what context? Two of the ten sites are on movies (essential for media students, and of recreational but hardly unusual interest to others), two on dictionaries (useful for any student) and one on job‐finding sources (again, useful for any student – although here only if they’re American). A Law Resources Guide is certainly not unusual for a Law student, but not much fun for anyone. A very idiosyncratic collection!However, Appendix C is more useful. Called “Strategy Quick Reference”, it comprises lists of tools, with URLs, useful for various topics (such as finding image files or people), given in the recommended order in which to try them.

While most Internet books are US‐biased, I have rarely seen such an exclusively American one. I may have missed a couple, but I could only find two URLs mentioned that were obviously not from the USA – one British, one Swedish. Unfortunately the former was the aforementioned Law Resources Guide. Excellent as this may be, it comes from the University of the West of England, so one should presume that it covers mainly English law – not a lot of use to an American law student!This isn’t made clear. (The page mentioned is no longer to be found on the UWE site. I did find a similar page of Law links created by the UWE Law Librarian in which, as I’d expect, English Law predominates.)

As one so often finds, the author uses the terms Web and Net interchangeably. However, although references are exclusively to Web URLs, other Internet resources such as FTP, e‐mail lists, newsgroups and Chat are discussed.

The book is beautifully constructed, and it’s difficult to criticise most of the content, but the net result can only be described as unexciting. While the text is broken up well, there are no graphics at all. I really cannot see the people at whom the book is aimed – undergraduates – being tempted to buy it, especially at this price. I’m sure many academic librarians will add it to their collections; I’d be very interested to see the issue figures for it after a year!

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